Observation Deck

Engage and Retain Employees

Four tools to help you empower staff with ongoing education and training.

The HME industry is on the cusp of what many believe to be a coming revolution in healthcare technology. With all new technology coming to the home medical equipment (HME) space, HME providers and their employees need to be aware of these ongoing changes facing the healthcare system, and specifically, the post-acute care industry.

HME will begin to see tons of tech — and that is great — but, providers must equip employees with the right technology tools in order to truly excel. Having the right technology develops efficient employees, cost-effectively drives quality patient-care, builds motivation and helps achieve the organization’s goals. The strategic use of technology has never been more important to post-acute organizations. Industry leaders are incorporating technology into every aspect of their organizations to streamline compliance, attract and retain competent staff, improve documentation, provide better referral source service and care coordination, and get more of their dollars in the door.

Utilizing technology is an excellent step towards improving productivity and increasing profits, but it’s more than just selecting the right tools. In addition to having the right technology, HME providers must deliver the right technology solution that can contribute to the growth of employees, their education and subsequently, the service they provide to patients. The knowledge and skills of the HME staff directly affect the quality of patient care and the overall performance of the business. Having experienced technology consultants allows HME staff to further develop their knowledge by learning from teams of consultants who work with thousands of providers regularly. Through proper training, employees can optimize the use of the technology and ultimately, improve their ability to excel at their jobs.

Providers certainly face a number of challenges. The Affordable Care Act and competitive bidding have brought new regulatory challenges to the HME marketplace, and the pressure to compete has driven many small dealers out of business. HME providers are at a unique crossroads to become patient advocates and partners in increasing the quality of care for their patients. Fortunately, there are emerging technology tools now available to help providers navigate this challenging environment.

These tools have been developed to help providers and employees tackle tasks such as documentation, invoices, and reimbursements more easily. In this age of technology, how we access and use information is power. From strategy for patients to strategy for operations and the business itself, technology is heavily relied upon to keep leaders in this industry moving forward and focused on patient care.

Here are some ways HME providers can equip employees with the right technology tools to make them a part of the overall success strategy:

Billing & A/R Management Solutions

It’s imperative a provider’s billing team has the proper technology. Such billing solutions collect more money with far less effort and increase the efficiency and accuracy of the billing process as a whole. The billing team should have technology at their fingertips that provide real-time eligibility verification and automates CMN submissions and payment postings. With proper billing solutions, the need to batch claims should be eliminated, and electronic claims should automatically be filed. As the saying goes — time is money — and the goal of proper billing technology is to limit the time spent on the phone checking for insurance eligibility and other manual processes. Additionally, billing tools can help transition to paperless reports; printed reports to track outstanding A/R can become a thing of the past.

Sales & Marketing Tools

HME providers must give sales teams the tools to manage — and keep track of — all doctor and facility referral sources. This type of solution helps employees manage the entire referral process from the first contact with a potential referral source to cultivating the referral relationship. In addition, these tools are essential in documenting referral contacts, calculating the number of referrals, tracking if a source has lowered the number of referrals, etc. Essentially, customer relationships can be strengthened through centralized information making it easy to manage customer communication, sales and service contracts all from one, centralized place.

Inventory Management Tools

Employees should be able to let go of the tedious process of manually performing physical counts, or relying on inventory software that is not integrated with the rest of the business. To achieve efficiency and more importantly, accuracy, inventory management software needs to be utilized to increase productivity, enhance customer service, maximize inventory turns, flag obsolete and superseded products and deter inventory theft. HME staff should be able to track inventory in real-time, helping meet accreditation requirements automatically by tracking the location of serialized equipment whether that be in the warehouse or with the patient. An inventory management tool will enable employees the ability to execute predictably and replenish accurately. In turn, labor costs and errors tied to manual reconciliation will be minimized.

Mobile Delivery Applications

Equipping field staff with mobile technology and a mobile application is crucial. A mobile application that is connected to another business management system helps to streamline overall business processes. Drivers can collect accurate and complete documentation at the point of delivery, access delivery tickets and scan product serial numbers. This technology tool helps eliminate manual processes and the risk of lost paperwork, which could hold up billing. In addition to streamlining processes, a mobile delivery application tool can provide the ability to monitor staff internally. Drivers can be tracked, and activity can be monitored to evaluate any inefficiencies, such as whether a particular driver is taking too long at each delivery point. This seamless connectivity between drivers and the central office helps staff confirm that all data received via mobile devices are complete and accurate.

HME providers must invest in the development of internal staff. Employees need to be aware of the ongoing changes facing the healthcare system, especially in the post-acute arena. HME providers should provide employee education, training and consulting to maximize employees’ knowledge of all technology tools. Through utilization of the appropriate technology tools and proper preparation, potential growth strategies can be unveiled, internal processes can be improved, and new revenue streams can be found. As HME providers go forward in this new age of technology, they must focus on the things that matter most to the business — a journey towards sustainability and prosperity — and embrace the right technology tools.

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

Rob Boeye is the executive vice president of Home Medical Equipment for Brightree. He is responsible for leading HME revenue growth and retention. Prior to joining Brightree, Rob was with Invacare Corp. as a senior sales leader in both the homecare and long-term care markets.

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